Having wireless MIDI controllers makes it convenient for most musicians and music producers.
You don’t have to worry about carrying MIDI and USB cables, especially when you like to produce music on the go.
Before we start the list, here is some information about MIDI controllers.
Types of MIDI Controllers
It’s nothing crucial if you know all this, you can scroll down! However, I thought it’s important noting how many ways MIDI technologies can be used in.
Keyboard controllers consist of keys and resemble a digital piano keyboard.
You will need to connect the keyboard controller to a host such as a computer with a DAW or VSTs to produce sound.
Keyboard controllers come in different sizes with a different number of keys.
Most modern keyboard controllers have a combination of keys, pads, and knobs.
Pad controllers consist of velocity-sensitive pads that you can use to trigger samples.
Finger drumming is easier on pads rather than keys because of the bigger and soft rubber surface.
You may also assign loops on the pads.
MIDI pads often have different banks so that you can interchange the pads in the middle of a performance with a push of a button.
A MIDI control surface is a MIDI controller that you can use to adjust the volume, effect levels, and other parameters within your DAW without having to use your mouse and keyboard.
Having a control surface is very helpful in mixing and mastering a song in your DAW.
DJ controllers resemble vinyl turntables that DJs use to play live sets.
With a DJ controller, you can play live DJ sets, as well as recording a DJ set with the use of a DJ controller.
On a turntable, you will have to change the vinyl records when you want to browse and select different songs.
MIDI DJ controllers allow you to switch between tracks with just a click of your mouse.
DJ controllers are much more convenient, but some DJs prefer the spinning vinyl feel.
MIDI controllers traditionally play and feel like a keyboard.
Still, with the help of innovation and technology, some companies have created MIDI guitar controllers.
It works the same way as a MIDI controller, where you connect it to a host to produce sound.
However, MIDI guitar controllers have different mechanics that are similar to how you use a guitar.
It has frets and instead of keys with the same pattern of notes as a real guitar.
Of course, the feel of the steel strings would be different, but it is easy to get used to.
These controllers are used by live and studio musicians to switch between guitar effects.
It resembles guitar effect pedals that you can connect and pair with your favorite guitar effects VSTs stored on your computer.
It works the same way as a MIDI controller, with buttons that you can press using your foot.
The Best Wireless MIDI Controllers
In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:
Now, let’s look at the top controllers that made it to the list:
Korg MicroKEY Air
The MicroKEY Air by Korg comes with a selection of different sizes depending on what you need.
You can choose between the 24, 37, 49, or 61-key variants.
Any of the models will still have the same specs, and connectivity features, with the only difference being, are the number of keys and key size.
It is a simple MIDI keyboard that is not equipped with a lot of pads or knobs, but it is equipped with a pitch and modulation wheel.
It will need two AA to power it up for a maximum of 30 hours straight, which is pretty efficient.
You can also use the USB port to power the device with the computer, wall plug, or power bank.
- Compatible with iOS devices and Mac OS
- Efficient battery
- USB compatible
- Software included
Artiphon Instrument 1
This next wireless MIDI controller is one of the most unique choices.
It is not based on a keyboard like most MIDI controllers, but it resembles the playing mechanics of a guitar.
It has a much more expressive style when playing, and as a guitar player myself, I could not let go of this thing for hours.
The only downside is the battery life. It only lasts for about 6 hours, which is frankly not enough.
- You can use it with all of your VST instruments
- Best invention of the year as per Time Magazine
- Built-in speakers
- Headphone jack
The Akai LPK25 is one of the better MIDI controller choices.
It is equipped with 25 keys, and you can power it up for 12 hours with three AA batteries.
You can also plug it in via USB if you run out of juice.
There aren’t any pads or knobs, but it works great with little to no latency at all when connected wirelessly.
- Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
- USB compatible
- Compatible for Windows, Mac OSX, and iOS devices
- Equipped with octave up and down buttons
- Compatible when paired with the Akai Wireless LPD8
Korg NanoKey Studio
The NanoKey Studio by Korg is a fantastic wireless MIDI device that includes keys, pads, and knobs.
It is a compact device that piano player might find difficult to play.
However, beatmakers and beginner musicians will have a blast with the combination of its features.
- 25 micro keys
- Backlit LED keys
- Works wirelessly or with USB
- Lightweight and compact design
- Great for DJ performances
- Comes with a software bundle
Akai LPD8 Wireless
(Best Wireless Pads)
The LPD8 is a MIDI pad controller that works great, especially if paired with the LPK25.
The velocity-sensitive pads are excellent for playing drums, instrument pads, or for playing loops and samples.
They are very responsive, and they even light up when pressed.
You will need three AA batteries or a USB connection to power up the device, but it can connect to the host via Bluetooth.
It is also equipped with eight assignable knobs that can be mapped with your DAW.
The Akai LPD8 is one of the first wireless MIDI controllers but remains on the top spot for musicians on the go.
- Eight velocity-sensitive pads
- Eight assignable knobs
- Four memory banks
- MIDI editor included
IK Multimedia iRig Blueboard Wireless
(Floor Controller / Guitar Effects on the GO)
Using guitar effects, VSTs are becoming popular when recording or producing tracks.
I always wished that there was a way to use the high-quality effects from your computer at live shows, but there wasn’t always a way to switch between effects using a footswitch.
Fortunately, IK Multimedia came up with the iRig Blueboard stompbox.
You can connect this wireless floor controller to your computer to use your VST effects for playing live performances.
If you are a minimalist like me, you will enjoy the BlueBoard.
You don’t have to carry your hefty multi-effects processor or pedalboard to shows anymore, all you need is a laptop and the BlueBoard.
It can also be used for other applications such as DJ sets for triggering samples with their foot.
- 4 Assignable footswitches
- iOS and iPad OS compatible
- 6-hour battery life
Pioneer DJ DDJ-200
(DJ on the GO)
The Pioneer DDJ-200 is one of Pioneer DJ’s most exceptional products yet.
It is a small and compact yet very functional DJ controller that you can use for learning or for playing DJ sets.
The best thing about it is that you can connect it wirelessly to your phone or laptop.
It does not work with batteries, so you might have to connect it to a wall plug or your computer to provide it with power. You can also use a power bank to make it more portable than it already is.
It comes with complete DJ controller functions such as hot cues, loop effects, faders, a crossfader, auto-sync features, and a headphone splitter.
You can use it with RedBox DJ for your computer and WEDJ or Algoriddim DJAY with your phone. It works great with no latency at all.
It is one of the best compact DJ controllers, plus you can get for a very affordable price.
- 16 pads
- Sync button
- Effects knob
- Wireless connection
MIDI Controller Features and Specs to Consider
There are many factors one has to consider when buying a wireless or wired MIDI controllers, let’s take a look:
MIDI controllers come in different sizes, so make sure you chose one that will fit your needs. If you will be using it for recording piano tracks, use one with a sufficient number of keys for the purpose. Some MIDI keyboards are more compact than others. If you will be using one
- Weight of Keys
Some people are okay with the mini-sized keys on a keyboard controller. However, piano and keyboard players prefer the full-sized weighted keys that are similar to a real piano. This factor is an important aspect to consider when you are choosing the right MIDI controller for your home music studio.
- Velocity Sensitivity
Another characteristic to look at when choosing the right controller is how velocity-sensitive are the keys and pads. Velocity is the response of the volume when you hit the keys or pads. Most modern MIDI controllers have this feature.
The feel of the pads differs depending on which controller. Some are rubber, which feels a lot better than plastic pads. Rubber pads are more durable and velocity-sensitive. If you will use the pads for finger drumming and creating rhythmic samples, get rubber padded MIDI pad controllers.
- Knobs/ Faders
Some MIDI controllers have knobs and faders to control levels of volume and effects in your DAW. These are useful for tweaking and adjusting the levels to get the right sound and automation. Some controllers have several knobs and faders built-in the keyboard, and there are ones that are specifically just knobs and faders.
Arpeggiators are cool effects that play rhythmic patterns for the sound of your choice. It is a nice feature to have in a MIDI controller. You can toggle the arpeggiator in your DAW with the use of a keyboard controller. It is a useful option turning the arpeggiator switch with just a press of a button on your controller.
- MIDI Mapping
MIDI Mapping is assigning specific controls of your DAW to the keys, pads, and MIDI knobs. Make sure you learn how to map your MIDI keyboard. Use your DAW to maximize the use of a controller you plan on buying. Some DAWs do not have this feature, but you can use the Midi editor software that comes with the controller to map out the controls.
- Octave Switch
Most mini keyboard controllers have the octave switch feature that allows you to play on a particular part of the piano roll. Consider buying a MIDI keyboard controller that has this feature, so you won’t have to use the mouse or trackpad of your computer to switch between keyboard sections.
- Modulation and Pitch Controls
Most MIDI controllers have this feature but consider what you would prefer. Some have modulation wheels, while others have a joystick for pitch control. When you are trying out controllers at your local guitar store, make sure you try out what feels right for you.
Controllers differ in the materials used in manufacturing. Plastic keys might break easily, so make sure you choose a MIDI keyboard with excellent build quality.
- Price Range
The most critical aspect of choosing your MIDI controller is your budget (or just buy a cheap MIDI controller under $100). Bluetooth MIDI devices are not necessarily expensive. I am sure you can find a budget wireless keyboard if you are running pretty low on cash.
Wireless VS Wired MIDI Controllers
Some people still prefer to use MIDI with the use of wire connections because some wireless devices may run out of battery and have a little bit of latency.
Wired MIDI controllers do not need or have batteries because they are powered with the laptop or computer they are connected to.
However, I sometimes prefer wireless MIDI controllers because of convenience.
No matter what you need the MIDI controller for, I have listed some of the best wireless and Bluetooth choices for whatever application.
If you are tired of setting up wires, especially during live performances or recording music on the go, using Bluetooth MIDI controllers is the way to go.
Last update on 2020-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API